6 Critical Questions You Should Ask A Professional Organizer

modern condoProfessional organizing is a growing business for a number of reasons. With most families having dual incomes there is more money people are able to spend on tasks they either don’t have time to do themselves, don’t have the skill or the physical ability or simply don’t want to do themselves.

We find that the majority of our clients are focused on spending whatever time they have available to do the things they really want to do and enjoy doing.

Also, many families are now downsizing to smaller homes as they get ready to retire and don’t have the knowledge or ability to downsize themselves. Many do not want to take things with them that they know they will no longer need.

Lastly, many older adults are transitioning from their own homes to community or retirement residences or transitioning to living with family and therefore require help with the downsizing, packing, space planning and the move. As this business grows, so too do the companies and individuals that provide the service.

We are always wanting to educate our current and potential clients so here are the top questions you should ask a Professional Organizer before you hire one.

1. What are your qualifications?

Here in Canada there is a professional association for professional organizers (PO’s) called the POC – Professional Organizers of Canada. Members are bound by their code of ethics to ensure that you receive trusted, confidential and committed service. Beware however that an individual can simply pay membership to the POC without having been trained so be sure you are hiring a PO that is in fact trained and has a good deal of experience and excellent communication skills. Having a background in either psychology or sociology is extremely helpful.

2. Do you have insurance?

Much like movers, Professional Organizers should carry their own liability insurance to cover accidents or damage however caused. Of course we are all careful in our work but you never know when an accident can happen and if it does you want to ensure that you and the PO are covered. After all, it is your home we are coming in to.

3. What is your pricing.

Make sure you have a complete understanding of what you are being charged and for what services. Some PO’s charge an initial assessment fee while others do not.   An hourly or a job rate can vary but the least expensive quote may not be the best. Some PO’s charge less than others, but their working pace is a lot slower or they take frequent breaks so you actually end up paying more in the end. Some are just learning the ropes so their cost is lower as well but the outcome may not compare to that of an experienced organizer.  Remember, you get what you pay for.  In our business we like to say “if you pay peanuts, you get monkeys!”

4. How many people are working on the project?

Some projects require one experiences lead organizer while others require an experienced assistant as well, or perhaps a team of organizers.  Does the company you are contacting have these staff or do they put out a “cattle call” for helpers.  At ClutterBGone for example, we have a dedicated team of professionals and don’t bring anyone on a project that we have not interviewed or trained.

5. How long have you been doing this?

I recently spoke to someone whose main occupation was that of a cleaning lady and she came upon an opportunity to make some extra cash to help a client “downsize”. It was an incredibly large project for someone with absolutely no experience as a PO. She called me looking for tips on how to help this client of hers and what to charge. From my chat with her it was obvious she had never done this before, was in fact quite judgmental with respect to the way the client was living and she lacked tactful communication. I was quite taken aback by how she spoke about her client.  I did not think this person should at all attempt the project as I was quite concerned.

Without having the skills and training (note that simply being an organized person is not enough!) you can actually cause clients emotional pain. Like any other business it is difficult to get started and to get some experience under your belt but if you have a big job that needs to be done ensure that whoever does it is experienced.
6. Do you have references? You would be amazed at the number of people that are embarrassed to ask for references. Get three and call one or two. Be sure to ask them at the end if they would hire them again if required and if not, why not?

So those are the must ask questions when you are looking for a Professional Organizer to help with your project. Ensure they are insured, experienced and have references to back it up.  If you have an organizational project and want to learn more about how we can help you, contact me here and we can chat.